At the very core of an entrepreneur’s marriage lie two contrasting phenomena. Marriage is an institution based on security and stability, whereas entrepreneurship is defined by the risk and uncertainty that accompany it. Building a company from scratch or taking a venture forward is a formidable activity that takes courage, confidence and a certain degree of risk-taking.
On the contrary, a marriage requires some amount of stability and security; for example, having decent savings or a steady income stream, being present both physically and mentally when spending time together, an open line of communication, division of home duties, etc. An entrepreneur’s “entrepreneurial nature” can clash with the expectations that come with a marriage.
This, however, doesn’t mean that entrepreneurs cannot or do not have successful marriages. It is very much possible if you know how to communicate properly with your partner. Communication is one of the most important pillars of a strong marriage. A research study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine cites breakdown in communication between married couples as the top reason for seeking therapy. It also states that poor communication has one of the most damaging effects on a relationship.
This article revolves mostly around the importance of having a strong line of communication between yourself and your spouse, as well as how to avoid saying three things that can have an adverse effect on your marriage.
1. ‘Why are you worrying so much about money?’
Everyone knows that being an entrepreneur comes with its share of financial risk-taking. There will be times when an investment does not yield fruitful results and you end up losing money. However, you should not think only as an entrepreneur, but also as a spouse and maybe a parent. When you invest in a venture or an idea, your spouse will have to face the uncertainty as well.
If the money isn’t recouped, or you lose everything, your spouse will also bear the brunt of it. They might need to work overtime or take up a job or two to support the family. Remember that your marriage is a joint effort, and the decisions you make as an entrepreneur do affect your partner.
Hence, it is always good to talk about finances with your partner. Be transparent and honest and listen to their concerns without raising your eyebrows. Try not to undermine their fears and opinions. Respect their concerns as they respect your decisions, and try to arrive at sound and reasonable agreements.
2. ‘What do you want from me?’
Instead of saying this, listen to what your partner is saying. They will tell you what they want from you in terms of your relationship.
Again, it’s important to remember here that when you are slogging it out in the office trying to scale your business, your partner may be holding down the fort at home. Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, and neither is being married to one. Your partner will have expectations of you as you have of them. Just as you expect flexibility, understanding and patience, they will expect you to stick to familial or social commitments, have uninterrupted quality time to spare, or just be home for dinner.
As human beings, we tend to be unable to express our feelings clearly, especially when we get emotional. Your partner might not be able to tell you exactly what they are feeling when they are upset. So, instead of saying, “What do you want from me?” wait for them to calm down and tell you what they want. Listening to your spouse is linked to higher levels of marital satisfaction.
3. ‘You don’t care about my business’
One of the biggest supporters in an entrepreneur’s life is the entrepreneur’s spouse. If they didn’t support you or your business, they probably wouldn’t have married you in the first place. This ties back to communication. Human beings tend to find it difficult to communicate exactly how they feel or what they want — especially during times of conflict.
As an entrepreneur, it is crucial that you recognize the share of responsibility that your spouse assumes, which enables you to focus more on your business. There might be a chance that your partner is feeling unsupported in the relationship or that their expectations and needs are going unmet for a long time.
If they are saying things that make you feel attacked, or that they do not support your business, then it might be time to stop and read between the lines. The best way is to ask your partner what they are going through once things have simmered down. There may be things that surprise you to hear or things that you had no clue were going on. Your partner might be feeling like they are giving too much to the relationship and receiving too little.
Remember that your spouse does, and has, supported the entrepreneur in you. However, they also need support from their partner. Ask them and you will know.
Communicate and reciprocate.
The key to a successful and blooming relationship is how you communicate with your partner. However, sincere reciprocation is equally important. Appreciation and gratitude go a long way. They let your partner know that not only do you acknowledge what they do for you, but you are also thankful for it as well.
As an entrepreneur, it is sometimes easy to get consumed in your work. Understandably so, since work takes up more than a fair amount of your time, energy and mental involvement. At such times, it is easy to lose sight of what your partner is doing to keep your relationship strong. It doesn’t work if one person is doing more than their share of the work.
So, remember to make a conscious effort to be aware of and grateful for their support and keep the communication lines open. Your spouse works hard, perhaps harder, to support your inner entrepreneur.